The inability of the medical helicopter to land at the hospital beacuse of smog left the F1 teams frustrated on Friday as they were forced to sit in the garage for the majority of the day.
Williams impressed as well, putting in times comparable with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying Three results
Lewis Hamilton went fastest in the first round of laps in Q3, almost two tenths of a second ahead of Sebastian Vettel with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen behind them in that order.
Lewis HamiltoLewis Hamilton at the Chinese Grand Prix
Chinese Grand Prix qualifying final results
However, Vettel's mechanics had identified a problem in Turn 12 to which they attributed the gap.
But Hamilton improved by four tenths with his final lap, beating the German to pole by 0.186 seconds.
Bottas meanwhile was just a thousandth of a second behind Raikkonen.
Chinese Grand Prix qualifying Q2 results
Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying Two results
Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Marcus Ericsson and Fernando Alonso were all sitting in the elimination spots with two minutes left in the session.
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Hulkenberg was able to improve and make it through in sixth place at the expense of Carlos Sainz.
Lance Stroll scraped into Q3 by 0.06 seconds, giving him the chance to qualify the Williams in the top 10 for the first time in F1.
Chinese Grand Prix Q1 results
Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying One results
Max Verstappen complained of engine problems in the middle of the session and was unable to produce a quick lap, finishing 19th.
"I hear something not right with the engine," Verstappen said.
Antonio Giovinazzi crashed on the start-finish straight
The Red Bull driver, who finished fifth behind the two Ferraris and two Mercedes, will start ahead of only Esteban Ocon, the Force India driver whose car had been struggling in free practice three.
Ocon was also restricted by Sauber's Antonio Giovinazzi who lost control coming out of the final corner and put his car into the wall, causing yellow flags to be waved in the final sector, and the Frenchman had to abandon his lap as a result.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean was also stopped from setting a fast lap by the accident and he was eliminated in Q1 with Jolyon Palmer and Stoffel Vandoorne.